QLab-LogoCreating a quality sound environment for a any show is a daunting task. But thanks to the guys over at Figure53.com the task is a little easier. Qlab is a FREE yet powerful audio tool for your sound-booth.  Developed for the MAC OS only, this program leaves its competitors behind.  This one program will enable you to take your sound design to a whole new level.  But before I gush over how much I love this program too much, lets talk about features.

While Qlab can also handle video and midi duties, this post will mainly focus on the audio portion of the program.

Features in Qlab

  • Supports up to 48 output channels
  • Ability to automate volume adjustments with fade cues
  • Sample accurate synchronization of audio
  • Full screen or custom video geometry
  • Camera cue for live video feeds
  • Real time video animation
  • Completely customizable fade curves
  • Easily send all midi voice, midi show controlled messages
  • Trigger from incoming timecode
  • Independent matrix mixer for every cue
  • Dead easy vamping
  • Full application script support
  • Unlimited undo for any change.

As if this list isn’t great enough, there are many neat features included that their list doesn’t even discuss! Qlab nearly eliminates the need for outside editors. Now, I know you never want to get rid of these completely as they are very useful and have their place, so don’t misunderstand.  But some of the features incorporated into this program will however alleviate the need to head over to a program like Garage Band quite so often.

Here is where you can set in and out points for a file as well as set its loop for how many times you want it to play etc.

So you want to use a piece of music for some underscoring of a scene, but don’t need the whole piece. Or, maybe you just want a certain portion to loop? Before, you would have dropped it in Garage Band and edited the clip down to what you needed, or repeat it to create your loop. With Qlab, you can import the whole clip and then you can direct the cue to start at a whatever time-code you want the piece to begin and end at! So say the song is 4 minutes long, but I only need it to run from 2:30 to 3:15, no problem, just tell the cue where to begin and end and you’re set!

Another great feature is the ability to type in the cues for whoever is going to be running your sound to reference.  Each cue has a “note” box which can be used to type in the character/line or action that the operator should be watching or listening for. This is especially useful when say your operator ends up so sick there’s no way they can make it. The person who must step in at least has that information right there in front of them to help them play their cues at the right moment.Qlab Notes Section

Perhaps one of the most useful features is the stackable cues. Using cd’s or itunes makes being able to do this very difficult. But now you can layer your sounds to give your sound environment extra depth. With this you can also set up Post and Pre waits with auto-follows to keep them running just when you want them to opening the door to your aural creativity!

Providing all these features, an easy to use interface and more you would think you would have to pay a hefty price! And if you’re on a PC you will. The nearest equivalent would be a program like SFX which starts at $295.  But for all you MAC users, this resource if FREE! With the paid upgrade you unlock some features that some will find useful, however, i’ve never needed any of them for what I have used this program for. All around, you couldn’t ask for a better SFX Playback program! I discovered this little jewel about 6 years ago and have been using it ever since!Qlab Interface